This is my first blog, and my very first post. I am aiming to publish a post at least once per week, to update you on my WIPs, as well as reflect on how stitching keeps me grounded. Comments and feedback are very, very welcome!
First, a little bit about me
I live in Kenya and have been stitching for just over 15 years. My son got me started…he came home from his pre-school and announced that I should make a cross stitch cushion for my Dad (his Opa) for Christmas. So my first foray into the world of cross stitch and embroidery wasn’t something simple or easy…no, I started off with a 12″ x 12″ cushion from a book that I found at the local bookstore. Turned out well, and 15 years later, my Dad is still using it. That got me started.
I am an international development/humanitarian relief professional, which is what brought me to Kenya in the first place. My professional life is full of ups and downs, successes and failures, and many, many wonderful and committed women and men, both community members and colleagues. Positive change is happening in many communities and countries in East Africa. It is slow, however, with change measured over years and decades, rather than days or months.
Why do I stitch?
Stitching is very different from my professional life. Yes, both take planning ahead but that is about all! A stitching a project is planned for, the necessary materials are gathered and the first stitch starts if off, usually over a short period of time! Stitching progress is tangible and measurable. When a piece is completed, the magic and alchemy of seeing the different, individual strands combined to create something beautiful and, in many cases, useful. It provides me with grounding and a sense of accomplishment. It is an opportunity for meditative reflection in the evenings and to recharge my batteries…and there is the addictiveness of seeing something beautiful that I am creating unfold right before my eyes.
Most of my pieces have been gifts for friends – those who appreciate the time and attention to detail that I put into my work. I don’t design (yet) and love the variety of designs available – so many great designers who have introduced me to new stitches, new threads and new techniques. I started out with kits for traditional cross stitch (2 over 2) and some petite point, and did that on and off for almost 10 years. But I got bored and stopped stitching as much – it was no longer challenging. Then I discovered other forms of embroidery/needlework – drawn thread and hardanger, and was off again! The harder and more complicated the better!
Along the way, I joined the Kenya Embroiders Guild, full of wonderful and supportive stitchers, and discovered the world of linen (so many colours and thread counts), silk thread (so soft, with a wonderful sheen), variegated thread (gradually changing colours unfolding) and perle cotton (a must have for hardanger)…all available online! Wow, that was a real eye opener. Kenya has a few shops with embroidery and needlework supplies – good, solid shops with a wide enough selection of basic supplies for embroidery and cross stitch, but there isn’t enough of a demand here for shops to bring in silk and variegated threads, perle cotton or a wide selection of linen in different counts. So I plan my projects ahead, and trawl through the online shops for speciality threads or fabrics that I need – online shopping is a wonderful thing!
Current WIP (Work in Progress for you non-stitchers)
At the moment, I am working on a drawn thread sampler by Linda Driskell – I have done some drawn thread before as part of different designs (first did it on a Teresa Wentzler design – cutting those threads for the first time was a real nail biter, I tell you), but this is my first sampler and learning some great new stitches. Lots of frogging though – I am a perfectionist, so will undo my progress and redo it if I am not happy with how it looks – makes it go slower, but I am then happier with the final result! Here is a picture of my progress so far – hope to finish it this week.
More later, thanks for reading!